“Great barbecue clearly makes creative teams think alike.” Thus begins the explanation of Parade‘s food editor on why yesterday’s cover had a curious resemblance to Texas Monthly’s June cover. The Texas Monthly team worked with Franklin Barbecue to style a tray of smoked meats fitting for a cover announcing the “50 Best BBQ Joints in the World.” Texas Monthly made a big deal of it, complete with a cover reveal before the issue came out. A video of how the lettering was done was uploaded and the cover even got some recognition for its design. Though that was all just six weeks ago, Parade must have missed all of that when researching their barbecue issue.
We first assumed that Parade just didn’t know where to begin with a barbecue issue and might have consulted “one of our country’s finest magazines” (their words) for inspiration. Looking inside the issue, it was refreshing to see that they’d chosen John T. Edge to pen the cover story. A man of impeccable writing skill and a true lover of smoked meat, he writes of the “glory days of American barbecue” and highlights great barbecue all over the country. Another article provides a list of critics’ favorite new-ish barbecue joints. Alison Cook has been an advocate for great barbecue for decades in Houston, so her pick of Corkscrew BBQ in Spring gave me hope that this would be a good list. Seeing Leslie Brenner’s name is when the realization hit that their choices of “top restaurant critics across the country” really meant newspaper critics from Parade affiliate papers. Brenner is known in barbecue circles for making it to Romenesko based on claims that she may have relied a bit too heavily on another local magazine (from an article that I wrote) in her best-of DFW barbecue list. That fiasco was followed with a half-hearted explanation similar to the one Parade provided.
Brenner’s selection of Lockhart Smokehouse is also humorous. While it’s hard to argue her choice (Lockhart Smokehouse was in Texas Monthly’s recent Top 50) it must feel especially sweet for the owners. They proudly display her scathing single star review from 2011 under the heading “Lone Star Review” and once held a “Fork You Leslie Brenner Day” in response. Today, Lockhart Smokehouse has made it onto her list of favorites. She responded via Twitter to the complete change in opinion:
— Leslie Brenner (@lesbren) July 19, 2013
In the end it’s great to see a continuing discussion about barbecue’s important place in America’s food culture. Pecan Lodge has been getting all the attention they can handle in Dallas, so it’s nice to see another joint like Lockhart Smokehouse getting the national lime light. On the subject of too much publicity, Teresa Gubbins noticed the similarity, but joked about seeing Franklin Barbecue on the cover at all, quipping, “Finally, someone takes notice of this undiscovered gem.” Then she stuck in the knife: “Maybe, just maybe, we’ve had enough stories about barbecue for now.” Nah. We’re just getting started.